Op-ed: Reluctant Social Commentary of a Newly HIV-Positive 20-Something
BY Tyler Curry
December 03 2012 7:00 AM ET
To avoid the topic out of fear is not only ignorant, it is disrespectful to those that have not been so lucky to fight for issues like gay marriage. They were busy fighting for their lives. It is disrespectful to the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have fought for a cure and who have afforded our community the “blinders” that we now wear. Our community has not only survived, it is thriving. Although I have been a proud gay man since I came out of the closet at the age of 16 and have experienced my fair share of adversity, much of the hard work had already been done. I am grateful for those that have come before and have given me the courage to write the words you are reading now.
In fact, at the risk of sounding trite, being diagnosed with HIV was the call-to-action that I had been waiting for. After the initial doctor’s visits and the long conversations with my friends about what it means to have HIV, I was left to ask myself the question, “So what does this mean to me, really?” In a sense, the scariest part about being diagnosed with HIV was that it forced me to grasp my own mortality, for the first time, at age 28. The thought of mortality was something that I had the luxury of avoiding. This, however, is what eventually brought me back to life.
Until now, I could spend my days dithering on luxury questions we all ask ourselves when trying to find our purpose. The sense of my mortality did not hit me because I was going to die anytime soon. It was just that I was going to die, whether it be tomorrow or 60 years from now. I was no longer able to naively rest on an infinite bank of days, wasting each day watching the “Real Housewives of Whatever” with every intention of writing my piece de resistance as soon as it was over.
I started to calculate all the ways that I numbed myself, casting minute after precious minute into the wind. The thought made me sick, and I realized I couldn’t live my life half asleep anymore. I had so many strong convictions of what I wanted to do, but was stuck in a stupor of “social media junk.”
Mortality is simply realizing that yesterday is one less day than you have today. Even though I probably won’t die tomorrow, I can still live better today. Realizing just that is the change in our lives that we all deserve.
As a person that was negative, I should have taken every opportunity to discuss with my friends and family what it means to be positive today, not just for the person with HIV, but for all of us. As a person that is now positive, I embrace the opportunity to be Exhibit A for anyone that needs a lesson. In the gay community, ignorance should be unacceptable and acceptance should be everything. We, out of all people, should know better.
This article is my way of taking off the mask and opening up a dialogue. For too long I was afraid to discuss a topic that shouldn’t be all that scary. Fear is what you should be afraid of. An open and candid dialogue is just the medicine we need for both positive and negative gay men to cast off any unnecessary fear and reticence. But just like any shot of medicine, we fear the prick of the needle.
Here’s to getting pricked.
TYLER CURRY is a is a marketing writer for the Dallas based plaintiffs’ law firm of Baron and Budd as well as a fiction writer and freelance columnist for several online publications. Prior to working for Baron and Budd, Tyler was a kindergarten teacher in Seoul, South Korea, but was forced to leave the three Korean children he attempted to smuggle in customs upon his return. Twitter: @iamtylercurry or subscribe at Facebook.com/tyler.curry.16